What started out as a simple care package operation has grown into a compound of cardboard boxes, volunteers and donations.
A barricade of support.
Marine mom Linda Tranquellino, whose son Matt (a 2008 graduate of West Islip High School) deployed for Afghanistan on Nov. 30, had the idea of putting together Valentine's Day goody bags for troops after something another Marine mom told her.
“One of my friends whose son was going on his second deployment said that one of the things they find the toughest is that sometimes they feel forgotten,” Tranquellino said.
With that in mind, Tranquellino, along with Matt’s father Joe Giametta, reached out to their friends, schools and community groups for Valentine's Day themed cards and gifts they can send to troops overseas. Tranquellino said that there is a void after the holidays--a time where the troops receive several care packages—where they might get that “forgotten” feeling.
“I was with some of my girlfriends and we got involved in Stocking For Soldiers,” she said. “It was early November and I knew my son was gonna be deploying and they were asking me, ‘What are we gonna do for them after he goes?’ And we thought about Valentine's Day to send our soldiers some love.”
Tranqullino said she’s received hundreds of cards from several schools, church groups and senior centers in the area, as well as monetary donations. She planned on putting all the packages together at her house with a few friends. But once word spread with her idea, a few friends multiplied into 80 volunteers. Forty care packages turned into 1,000; so much so that they had to move the operation to the Bay Shore Marine Corps League.
She even received word from John Cochrane (newly-elected to the Islip Town Council), an ex-Marine and director of the Bay Shore Lions Club, that the Lions would pick up the shipping tab, which will easily amount to more than $1,000.
“As the parent of someone serving in Afghanistan, I didn’t realize how much support these guys have,” Tranquellino said. “And this isn’t just about my son;it’s for the Marines.”
Please see attached PDF for all the details regarding Saturday’s Valentine's Day Care Package Drive.